ISKCON Derire Tree's Posts (13259)

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Mantra Chaitanya das, 33, on how spirituality has changed his attitude towards money.
Interview by The Guardian.
Name: Mantra Chaitanya das
Age: 35
Income: £12-£15,000
Occupation: Gardener, teacher and voluntary university chaplain, Canterbury

I became interested in the Hare Krishna movement following the death of my brother 10 years ago. He worked as a DJ and was materially successful but within a couple of years of being diagnosed with cancer, he lived on a boat with few possessions. He turned to Buddhism and meditation during the last six years of his life and underwent a massive spiritual transformation; he just seemed to be happier the closer he was to death. That blew my mind.

After his death I was given his copy of Bhagavad Gita, an ancient book of wisdom, and eventually met some Hare Krishna devotees, which led me to study Krishna consciousness and meditation. Everything they said made sense. I was hooked.

At the time I was a musician, a career I’d always had my heart set on. I’d set up a record label and toured but it didn’t make me happy. I told my bandmates that I had to follow my heart and join the Hare Krishna movement. Fortunately they were really cool with it.

After I met my wife we decided we wanted an adventure so we moved to Canterbury – a place with no Hare Krishna presence – to share what we had learned with others.

Three years ago I started to work full-time as a gardener. I work about four days a week and earn about £12,000 to £15,000 a year. My other positions are voluntary. I teach mantra meditation and bhakti yoga at the University of Kent every Monday and every Saturday and Sunday my wife and I run programmes in Canterbury and Margate. We’ll hire out community centres and we’ll all meditate, listen to a talk, chant and dance. By 7pm we’ll sit down to eat and chat.

Our income is spent running meditation workshops, philosophical study groups, free community lunch sessions and a student society at the University of Kent, where I also volunteer as a chaplain representing Krishna consciousness. Everything we offer people is free of charge; we rely on voluntary donations to help us do what we do, although the bulk of it is paid for ourselves.

We don’t drink, smoke or eat out, and we don’t go to the cinema or theatre.

Our understanding is that money is a gift from Krishna and he lets us utilise what’s necessary for our upkeep. We live simply and we don’t waste time or money. We work hard and play hard. We help others find lasting happiness.

We rent our apartment and that costs us £800 a month. We split everything between us. Bills come to about £250 a month. We spend about £20 a week on food. We like to drive to a wholesale store in Wembley once a year to bulk buy dal, rice, ghee and spices.

I travel around in a 13-year-old ex-fire service van; fuel for it costs about £100 a month. Insurance and tax is about £60 a month.

For the past two years we’ve been lucky to find our way to India for a couple of weeks. We buy a lot of our clothes and other devotional items there because the price is so good. It’s mainly a spiritual pilgrimage for us. Most of our life is about giving; this helps us recharge so we can offer more to everyone.

Our philosophy is that real happiness is permanent and spiritual, as opposed to temporary and material. So we try to engage whatever wealth we have in helping others develop spiritually, and in doing so we’ve found a happiness that can never be exhausted.

I used to be silly with money but with Hare Krishna I’ve learned self-control and feel more satisfied as I’m looking after myself. There’s moments when I look at what cash is going out and wonder what is going in, but that doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable. I know Krishna will sort us out. I just try to be sensible and not reckless with money.

I think sometimes people think Hare Krishna life is a bit austere, but now my life is so rich and full of bliss. I’m deeply happy.

More information at harekrishnacanterbury.com
Source: https://is.gd/JR6RJc

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Between 21st and 25th of December, 2019, ISKCON Ahmedabad, India, hosted the national ISKCON Communications Conference. The event was organized by ISKCON India's National Director of Communications Yudhistir Govinda Das. Over 25 participants assembled to introspect, reflect, analyze, strategize and prepare an effective plan of action for ISKCON Communications India representatives.

Pancharatna Das touched upon strategies for a better outreach for an effective communication bridge between ISKCON and the rest of the world. He emphasized on the need for environmental conservation and preservation of nature. The remark that resonated was, ‘The proper application of science and technology is not to Lord over nature, but to live in it harmoniously.’ It was further elaborated by Yudisthir Govinda Das, when he described how ISKCON has tied up with the United Nations on Environmental Protection (17 point agenda) and the Indian Government for preservation of water. 

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Anuttama Das (Governing Body Commissioner, Minister of ISKCON Communications) commenced his speech with selective and effective communication via print and electronic media. Often a message could be juxtaposed, misinterpreted or contorted, thus losing its true value. Hence one should be precise, vigilant and careful while expressing oneself in order to have an appropriate impact on the audience or readers or listeners. He emphatically stressed on the importance of interfaith relations in order to establish peace and God consciousness throughout the world. On one hand, ‘we can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves and our existence’ while on the other hand, ‘peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding (Albert Einstein)’ and Dalai Lama XIV had once said that ‘peace could only be established with compassion and not violence’. It was a powerful and intuitive presentation.

The conference was attended by several local media crew as well. The principal correspondent of NAV Gujarat Samay newspaper, Dr. Dave shed light on the functionalities of media, wherein the actual content, which could improve people, is being manhandled and mis-represented. He gave an insightful perspective about how a national communications secretariat within organizations like ISKCON can actually enable proper permeability of good content. 

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Another eminent Communications consultant, Sri Jay Tharur, who is a consultant of the Chief Minister of Gujarat, India, Mr. Vijay Rupani, highlighted his life’s metamorphosis or transformation. When in life he had hit rock bottom, lost everything, he came across the founder Acharya of ISKCON, A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami’s life story, wherein he learnt how at the age of 69, Swami had redefined his life by revolutionizing the approach towards spirituality and religion in the West. He was extremely inspired and that’s what motivated him to fight his way and turn the tables of his life in his favor. His presentation was filled with motivation and apprehensive intuitions. 

Several participants gave enlightening presentations on their success stories. ISKCON Chowpatty temple of Mumbai, India, has taken a great initiative in collaboration with Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), hence becoming the first ISKCON temple to go completely green. Yudhistir Govinda who recently completed his International Fellowship with KAICIID spoke on his activities with various governmental and inter-governmental agencies.

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The best was kept for the last, the conference ended at a very high note when all the participants were taken to ‘Dakor’, a holy site of pilgrimage near Ahmedabad and they also witnessed Live News broadcasts in Zee News and Gujarat Samaya Broadcast Stations respectively. 

Overall, the Conference was able to inspire and inject the urgency of action in order to grow towards a God conscious and peaceful civilization.

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Source: https://iskconnews.org/iskcon-india-communications-conference-ahmedabad,7220/

 

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Dear Vaishnavas and Vaishnavis,

Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
The GBC Organizational Development Committee is a standing committee of ISKCON’s GBC. We strive to provide proper organizational structure designed to create global alignment and ensure devotional standards and ethos throughout the society. Global alignment will also provide a more unified society with clearer lines of authority, culture, strategy, and performance. We believe in “More Devotees, Happier Devotees”. We are looking for enthusiastic individuals to join our team. This devotional opportunity offers service on a global level.

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Communication Specialist

GBC Organizational Development Committee is looking for an experienced Communications Specialist to create and implement communications strategies that further the Committee’s goals. This includes creating written and verbal communication elements to portray the Committee’s efforts while creating feed-back loops with our constituencies. We wish to build relationships with ISKCON National Councils, Temple Presidents, Congregational Leaders and other interested devotees. We also need to regularly report our activities to the GBC

Creative Writer

GBC Organizational Development Committee is looking for an experienced Creative Content Writer with extreme attention to detail and the ability to think outside the box while writing blog posts, producing website contents, writing informational booklets, articles, letters, and social media posts. This position requires a strong ability to write creatively, prioritize projects and work under tight deadlines.

Graphics Designer

GBC Organizational Development Committee is looking for an experienced Graphic Designer to work on layout designs for brochures, reports, advertisements, flow charts and more. This position requires illustrating concepts by designing layout of art and copy with sensitivity to arrangement, size, type size and style, and related aesthetic concepts. The Graphic Designer will coordinate with the Web Developer to create a coordinated look and feeling for the Organizational Development Committee’s visual appearance.

Fundraiser

GBC Organizational Development Committee is looking for an experienced Fundraiser to organize activities to raise funds, gather monetary donations or other gifts for the GBC Organizational Development Committee. Skills required include working with the Graphic Designer to design and produce promotional materials. This position includes establishing long-term relationships with donors on a world-wide level.

Web Developer and Webmaster

GBC Organizational Development Committee is looking for an experienced Web Developer- Web Master to create, maintain and update the website and to keep up with user demands and improvements. The role is responsible for designing, coding and modifying websites from layout to function. Must strive to create a visually appealing site that features user-friendly design and clear navigation.

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Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=81248

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My dear Hari Nam Prabhu:

By the grace of Shrila Prabhupada
and my shiska gurus who represent
Lord Chaitanya and Nitai,
(who have brought you in Kali-yuga)
I have been introduced to you
in the process of japa and kirtana.

With whatever humility and gratitude
I can embody, I thank you for
remaining with me over the years,
many of which were quite poor spiritually--
yet you somehow enabled me to keep chanting.

I have reasoned that due to my chanting
I was able to remain at least some type
of devotee, though at my lowest times
I didn't appreciate the value of being one,
today I do some much more!

Thus I can joyfully say THANK YOU
Hari Nam Prabhu for keeping me
company, allowing me to continue
on the path, remaining an
aspiring devotee of Krishna.

My time in this body is short
so I humbly, intensely pray to you:

Please allow me to chant purely
with love, concentration and the
realization that you are a real person.

Please stay with me, allowing me
to have a service attitude, gradually
with full devotion in everything I do.

Please allow me to remember your meaning
as Radha Krishna, thanking my gurus, peers
and great devotees, for the gift of Bhakti.

Please be my constant companion
even in sleep, and by your grace may
I be an ideal example of a devotee.

Let me perfect my life with Prema and
pure devotion, and may the overflow of
that help others be encouraged in Bhakti.

May we all encourage each other to take
full shelter of you, serving devotees
and being your instruments.

May my heart be one with yours,
my desires one with yours,
my mission one with yours.

May your will be done
through me, within me
and around me.

Source: http://www.krishna.com/blog/2008/10/1/prayers-holy-name

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From Back to Godhead

The ideas of the Western philosopher Kant come close to the concept of dharma.

For some, duty is a dirty word—we want to do what we want to do. Period. To hell with duty. But let’s consider this more seriously: What is duty, and should I be concerned about it? Clearly, duty means different things to different people. And yet it’s not uncommon to wonder: What am I meant to do? Is there a reason I was put on this earth?

Duty is a term loosely applied to any action or course of action regarded as morally necessary, apart from personal likes and dislikes. From the theistic viewpoint, the ultimate duty is to God and our fellow man.

Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) was among the West’s many philosophers who wrote about duty. He called his system of thought “deontology,” which literally means “the study of duty.” One of the most important implications of deontology is that a person’s behavior can be wrong even if it results in a positive outcome, and an act can be virtuous even if it results in a negative outcome. In contrast to consequentialism, a philosophy claiming “the ends justify the means,” deontology insists that how people achieve their goals is generally just as important as what those goals are.

In deontological moral systems, we have to understand what our moral duties are and what rules tend to regulate those duties. When we follow our duty, then, we are behaving morally. When we do not, we are behaving immorally. Usually, Kant admits, our duties, rules, and obligations are determined by God. Being moral is thus a matter of obeying God’s laws, though in some cases people will have an inborn sense of right and wrong independent of belief in God.

These ideas correspond to the concept of dharma, which also focuses on various kinds of duty. The Vedic literature tells us that we have two kinds of God-given duty: temporary duties related to the body (varnashrama-dharma), and eternal duties coming from our inborn nature as eternal spirit souls (sanatana-dharma). In bhakti-yoga, duty is the chief characteristic and underlying motivation in vaidhi-bhakti, or regulated devotion to the Supreme Lord. Properly executed, vaidhi-bhakti leads to perfection in regulated devotional service and can also lead to raganuga-bhakti, or spontaneous devotion, which sets duty aside and revels in spontaneous love of God. Thus, dharma—or in Western terms, deontological practice—can lead to the ultimate goal of life.

What Exactly Is Dharma?

The word dharma comes from the Sanskrit root dhri, meaning “to support, hold up, or bear.” In common parlance dharma means faith, duty, divine law, the right way of living, or the path of righteousness, definitions with which Kant would be happy. But there’s more to it than that. The derivative dhru, or dhruva, meaning “pole,” implies the balancing of extremes through an axis. Dharma thus refers to that invariable something at the center of existence that regulates change by not participating in it, by remaining constant. Ultimately, dharma is the central organizing principle of the cosmos; it supports and maintains all existence.

While the word dharma is sometimes translated as “religion,” Prabhupada pointed out the mistake in that translation. “Religion” implies a person’s faith, which may change, but dharma is the inner reality that makes a thing what it is. It is the dharma of the bee to make honey, of the cow to give milk, of the sun to shine, and of the river to flow. Dharma is a thing’s essence.

Varnashrama-dharma

While every living being’s sanatana-dharma (“eternal duty”) is service to God, in the material world such service plays out in a variety of ways according to each person’s psychophysical makeup. This is called sva-dharma, or one’s personal duty based on idiosyncratic inclination and body type. It is also called varnashrama-dharma.

The most well-known articulation of the varnashrama system (or at least the varna, or social duty, part of it) is found in the Bhagavad-gita (4.13). Here, Lord Krishna says that He created human society with four natural social classes, or varnas. He further explains that the specific religious duties prescribed for each social division allow for the most effective application of eternal religious principles in the material world.

The social orders are (1) brahmanas: intellectuals and priests; (2) kshatriyas: politicians, administrators, and warriors; (3) vaishyas: farmers, merchants, and bankers; and (4) shudras: laborers and artisans. People naturally fit into one of these occupational divisions, says Lord Krishna, in line with their qualifications and work. It should be emphasized that the original system was based on vocational aptitude and inclination, not on birth.

What we are talking about here are personality types. The brahmana, for example, has a priestly nature, contemplative and inclined toward study. He responds to goodness and is gentle and clean. His vision focuses upward, toward higher reality. The kshatriya, on the other hand, is the chivalrous, knightly type, and his concerns are generally more “this-worldly” than those of the brahmana. He leans toward action, and his powers of analysis are keen. He is characteristically noble, except when his passions get the better of him. His main focus is on getting things done, but with honor, virtue, and integrity.

Now, the vaishya, for his part, tends to be bound to material values because his life revolves around money. His motivation is security, prosperity, and economic stability, and it is difficult for him to see beyond these.

If the vaishya’s vision is somewhat limited, the shudra’s is still more compromised. He feels good only when he works hard at physical labor. He is a born assistant, not usually prone to original ideas. His life revolves around his physical work and immediate bodily pleasures, and he prefers routine to innovative thinking.

As should by now be apparent, these classifications apply to all human beings, not just to Hindus. Everyone has a natural inclination toward a particular kind of endeavor. And all endeavors fit into one of these four broad categories. Thus, the original social system as enunciated in theBhagavad-gita is intended for everyone, or at the very least it bears naturally on everyone’s life. It is thus a component of sanatana-dharma, or the eternal occupation of every soul.

The ashramas, or the second part of the varnashrama system, represent a four-tiered system of spirituality in which one is first a student (brahmachari), then gets married (grihastha), and eventually retires (vanaprastha) and renounces everything (sannyasa) in preparation for death. In many ways these may not sound like spiritual stations as such. Rather, they might seem like ordinary phases of life, playing out according to the passage of time, and indeed they are. Like the social orders enunciated by Krishna, the four spiritual orders can be found, to one degree or another, in diverse human cultures throughout the world. In all civilizations there are celibate religious people, married people who want to pursue higher spiritual values, people coming to grips with old age and the importance of renunciation, and people recognizing the inevitability of death, vowing to devote the remainder of their days to pursuing God consciousness and sharing it with others.

What is unique about the Vedic scriptures and their corollaries, however, is that here one finds guidance and models of behavior appropriate to each of the four ashramas, and these help one to evolve spiritually. One’s progress on the spiritual path can be tested by distinct behavioral patterns that reflect various levels of consciousness, and these too are outlined in the scriptures. Thus, while the basic form of varnashrama exists worldwide, Krishna conscious devotees teach that the system as conveyed in Vedic literature presents a structured method to achieve spiritual perfection.

Sanatana-dharma

As I mentioned before, dharma refers to that activity or function that cannot be changed. Heat and light, for example, are the dharma of fire; without heat and light, fire has no meaning. The dharma of the soul is to serve God. More specifically, that is our sanatana-dharma, or our eternal function irrespective of whatever body we may inhabit. In material consciousness we lose sight of our natural sanatana-dharma and become engaged in unnatural activity related to the body. Our original spiritual nature as a soul becomes dormant, temporarily replaced with a distorted nature, that of identifying with the body and its pains and pleasures. Sanatana-dharma is resumed only when the soul is placed in proximity to the spiritual element, such as God Himself (through prayer, chanting, deity worship, and so on), scripture, and pure devotees of the Lord.

Through such association, the true nature of the soul again becomes established, just as ice returns to its natural state as liquid when exposed to the gentle rays of the sun. This is Krishna conscious spirituality, whether one refers to it as Vaishnavism, as has been done for millennia in India, or by its more general name of sanatana-dharma.

Back to Kant

What would Kant say about all this? Well, as a Christian, he appreciated theological perspectives, and he tried to harmonize reason with belief in God. But Kant was big on what he called the “Categorical Imperative,” or universal truths that can be logically substantiated. It’s sort of a preliminary version of sanatana-dharma.

Additionally, or as part of the Categorical Imperative, he wanted his readers to ask themselves the following question: “Could I accept a world in which everyone behaves as I do?” According to Kant, this question should guide our sense of morals and ethics. In other words, if I act inappropriately, selfishly, my behavior infringes on the rights and liberties of others. Similarly, if I act selflessly, considering other people and the natural world around me, that serves the greater good; that is in everyone’s better interest.

As devotees of Krishna, we see good reasoning in Kant’s basic hypothesis: We recognize the benefits of a selfless life of God consciousness. If people would chant the names of God and refrain from meat-eating, illicit sex, intoxication, and gambling, the world would be a better place. If everyone accepted the nonsectarian principles of universal religion, sanatana-dharma, there would be no “us and them,” no religious wars, no bickering based on identifying the body as the self.

Generally, the material world is the place where people act selfishly, focused on their own pleasure, creating an unworkable situation. A world in which we act as independent enjoyers, divorced from God, becomes a place of havoc. If the goal of life is unbridled pleasure, neighbors become commodities, valuable only as long as they bring us enjoyment.

Krishna consciousness says that the true Categorical Imperative is service to God. Whether we serve Him in an overarching, general way, in line with sanatana-dharma, or engage our predilections, as in the varnashrama system, service to God is a must. It is the essence of dharma and the highest duty. Indeed, this is a truth that Kant would never deny.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=14429

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An Indian Union Minister of State recently triggered a furor by stating that evolution is unproven scientifically and shouldn’t be taught in schools.
 
Before examining the tenability of this statement, we need to understand what is implied by the word evolution. It refers to different things in different contexts.
 
In today’s public discourse, evolution is used in three broad senses:
1. Adaptation of species
2. Emergence of new species
3. All-explaining naturalistic ideology
 
Adaptation of species: Evolution can refer to the variation that happens within species as they adapt to their environment by developing certain features. For example, flora and fauna in deserts develop mechanisms to store water. Such adaptation is a well-documented phenomenon that doesn’t need to be doubted or disputed. Nature has endowed living beings with the capacity to adapt to their environment – in that sense, living beings do evolve. Almost all the hard evidence provided by science textbooks for evolution is for such biological adaptation, which can be termed as micro-evolution.
 
Emergence of new species: Evolution also refers to the mechanism by which one species changes into another – a phenomenon that can be termed macro-evolution. Whereas micro-evolution connotes a mechanism for the survival of the fittest, macro-evolution connotes a mechanism for the arrival of the fittest, or, in general, for the emergence of any entirely new species. The notion that incremental variation within a species can lead to the formation of another species – that such gradual change explains the origin of all species – is a gigantic leap in speculative inference that begs for evidence. This change is believed to happen so gradually that it can’t be observed, so proponents of macro-evolution turn to the fossil record as evidence. However, the fossil record doesn’t provide much help, as is admitted by prominent evolutionists themselves.
 
· “The curious thing is that there is a consistency about the fossil gaps; the fossils are missing in all the important places.” – Francis Hitching, The Neck of the Giraffe or Where Darwin Went Wrong
 
· “Paleontologists have paid an enormous price for Darwin’s argument. We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we almost never see the very process we profess to study.” – Stephen J Gould, The Panda’s Thumb
 
Of course, being evolutionists by belief, they don’t let the paucity of evidence challenge their belief – instead, they come up with new theories. Whether those new theories actually address the problem remains debatable.
 
Nonetheless, evolution has many aggressive proponents who try to shut down any debate by labelling evolution’s critics as anti-scientific fanatics who want to take the world back to the Stone Age.
 
Embarrassingly for such evolutionists, many of those who question evolution are credentialed scientists. And not just a handful, but several hundreds, as is evident from the list at dissentfromdarwin.org. It has over 800 scientists, with the number continuously increasing.
 
As a society, we value freedom of expression. So, shouldn’t we value the freedom of expression of those scientists who question evolution’s scientific tenability?
 
All-explaining naturalistic ideology: Beyond macro-evolution, evolution is often used to refer to something much bigger: philosophical naturalism. Herein, evolution becomes like a magic wand that explains everything existing in nature: the emergence of human beings to the emergence of all pre-human species and even the emergence of consciousness. Evolution expands to go beyond biological evolution to chemical evolution that claims insentient chemicals gave rise to conscious life.
 
However, evolution of consciousness is an intractable problem. The 125th anniversary issue of Sciencelisted 125 questions for which science had no answer. The second question was about the origin of consciousness. (The first pertained to the origin of the universe.) That question about consciousness remains unanswered even today, despite much high-sounding evolutionary psychobabble broadcast in the media.
 
· Nobel Prize winning neurophysiologist Sir John Eccles observed: “If you look at most modern texts on evolution you find nothing about mind and consciousness. They assume it just comes automatically with the development of the brain. But that’s not the answer. (International Herald Tribune, 31 March 1981)
 
· Physicist Nick Herbert underscores in his book Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics: “Science’s biggest mystery is the nature of consciousness. It is not that we possess bad or imperfect theories of human awareness; we simply have no such theories at all. About all we know about consciousness is that it has something to do with the head, rather than the foot.”
 
In fact, when evolution becomes an all-explaining truth-claim, it no longer remains a science, but becomes an ideology. Philosopher of science Wolfgang Smith points out, “Darwinism, in whatever form, is not in fact a scientific theory, but a pseudo-metaphysical hypothesis decked out in scientific garb. In reality, the theory derives its support not from empirical data or logical deductions of a scientific kind but from the circumstance that it happens to be the only doctrine of biological origins that can be conceived with the constricted worldview to which a majority of scientists no doubt subscribe.” The doctrine Smith refers to is philosophical naturalism, which holds that everything in existence can be explained solely through natural mechanisms.
 
From what science explains to what explains science
 
Science presumes the existence of some natural order which it tries to understand. But it can’t explain the rationale for the existence of this natural order. Consider, for example, the scientific theory that fruits fall because of the force of gravity. But why does gravity exist in the first place? Even if it is attributed to some further scientific construct, such as the curvature of space-time, that only takes the question one step back: Why does space-time have such features? Ultimately, science requires the pre-existence of some natural order. Pertinently, physicist Paul Davies points out, “Science can proceed only if the scientist adopts an essentially theological worldview … even the most atheistic scientist accepts as an act of faith the existence of a law-like order in nature that is at least in part comprehensible to us.”
 
To better appreciate the implications of this founding presumption of science, we need to recognize that what science explains is different from what explains science. “What science explains” refers to the explanations in terms of natural laws or natural mechanisms, such as gravity, that science comes up with on observing the natural world. In contrast, “what explains science” raises the question why nature works according to the laws that science uncovers.
 
Let’s compare science with eyes. We may look with our eyes and explain what we see. But explaining what we see doesn’t explain why there exists something worth seeing and explaining. Similarly, explaining the mechanisms operating in nature doesn’t explain why nature has any mechanism at all. Actually, what science does is describe how nature operates; it doesn’t explain why nature operates that way. If Ajay hits Vijay, describing how Ajay’s fit smashed Vijay’s jaw doesn’t explain why Ajay did what he did. German philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein puts it succinctly: “The great delusion of modernity is that the laws of nature explain the universe for us. The laws of nature describe the universe, they describe the regularities. But they explain nothing.”
 
That’s why the truth-claim that evolution is a grand non-theistic alternative for explaining everything goes beyond the range of valid science. It becomes scientism, the ideological imperialism of science extended into all domains of knowledge.
 
Allowing such scientism to be taught in schools is a disservice to science because it gives a misleading picture of reality. People who use science to search for the deepest answers, for answers to question about the meaning and purpose of life, will find science falling short of their expectations. This is no fault of science, for no field of knowledge can be expected to answer questions outside that field. But when education sets up the expectation that science has the answer to all questions, the ensuing frustration only alienates people from science.
 
Nobel Laureate Sir Peter Medawar, despite being an atheist himself, cautions scientists in his book Advice to a Young Scientist: “There is no quicker way for a scientist to bring discredit upon himself and upon his profession than roundly to declare – particularly when no declaration of any kind is called for – that science knows, or soon will know, the answers to all questions worth asking, and that questions which do not admit a scientific answer are in some way non-questions or ‘pseudo-questions’ that only simpletons ask and only the gullible profess to be able to answer.”
 
Summary
 
Thus, by recognizing the multiple connotations of the word evolution, we can address the question of teaching evolution in an appropriately sophisticated, multi-faceted way.
 
· Evolution as adaptation of species can be taught.
 
· Evolution as a mechanism for the emergence of new species, indeed all species, is debatable. This debate exists for real in the scientific world, and its existence needs to be acknowledged in educational curricula.
 
· Evolution as an all-explaining ideology – where it becomes a convenient tool of atheists to arrogate the prestige of science to themselves and to brand anyone who opposes atheism as unscientific or even anti-scientific – is a misrepresentation of reality and a misappropriation of science. It needs to be strongly contested and corrected.
 
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The Solution to Food Shortages

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From Back to Godhead

The following exchange took place after a talk by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada before the World Health Organization, in Geneva, on June 6, 1974.

WHO member: Your Divine Grace, do you have any suggestions for solving the worldwide problem of food shortages?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. My suggestion is that people should utilize all this vacant land for crops. I have seen so much land lying dormant. For instance, in Australia and also in America, there is so much land lying dormant. The people are not utilizing it.

And whatever produce they get, sometimes they dump tons of it into the ocean to keep the prices high. And I have heard here in Geneva that when there was excess milk production, some of the people wanted to slaughter twenty thousand cows just to reduce the milk production.

This is what is going on in people’s brains. Actually, they have no brains. So if they want to get some brains, they should read these authentic Vedic literatures, and they should take spiritual guidance. And that guidance is simple: produce your food – all the food the world needs – by properly utilizing the land.

But today people will not utilize the land. Rather, they have left their villages and farmlands and let themselves be drawn into the cities for producing nuts and bolts. All right, now eat nuts and bolts.

Mahatma Gandhi’s basic program was to revive the natural, God-given way of life. Simple villages and farms. This can solve India’s – and the whole world’s – food problems. But our big Pandit Nehru topsy-turvied everything. He wanted more industrialization.

Gandhi’s program was very nice: organize yourselves into small farming villages and produce your own food. Live free from cities and factories. This way, you can work only three months and still you get your produce for the whole year.

Three months’ work for the whole year’s produce. And the rest of the time, the time you save you can use for chanting Hare Krishna. Sing the Lord’s glories and develop your original God consciousness. This is our Krishna consciousness movement. Be spiritually advanced – be a human being.

Otherwise, the life you are leading is risky. In the Bhagavad-gita (2.13) it is said, tatha dehantara-praptir dhiras tatra na muhyati: however big a plan we may make, someday we will have to give up this plan, because someday we will have to give up this body. And there is no guarantee what kind of body we are going to get next time.

Suppose that this time, this life, I am very busily constructing a big skyscraper. Next time, next life, I may have to live in that skyscraper in the body of a cat or dog, because I have developed the grossly selfish, body-centered consciousness of a cat or dog. And at that time who will care about my so-called title to the skyscraper?

These are the facts. Because nobody can change nature’s law. Nature’s law is exactly like an infectious disease – expose yourself to it, and it takes hold of you, that’s all. Karanam guna-sango ‘sya sad-asad-yoni-janmasu: one gets born into a nice or nasty situation because of his prior actions and because of nature’s inexorable reactions. This is nature’s law.

But now many people do not even believe that there is a life after death. In Moscow a big professor named Kotovsky told me, “Swamiji, after death there is nothing.” You see? He’s a big professor. And yet he has no knowledge of the soul. A big professor – just see. This kind of nonsense is going on.

So as this godless civilization drags on, by nature’s law there will be more and more problems. As predicted in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, there will be anavrishti, insufficient rain; and as a result, durbhiksha, insufficient food production. Of course, these problems have already begun.

And on the plea of providing relief from the drought and famine, the government will crush the people with excessive taxation. And consequently, acchina-dara-dravina yasyanti giri-kananam: the people will be so disturbed that they will give up their hearth and home and go to the forest. They will feel utterly harassed – by scarcity of rainfall, by scarcity of food, and by the government’s excessive taxation.

In such a predicament, how can one keep his brain in equilibrium? He will become mad. Unless we take the instruction of the scriptures, all these tragedies are guaranteed to befall us. So we should immediately take this instruction of the Bhagavad-gita (3.14) to heart:

annad bhavanti bhutani
parjanyad anna-sambhavah
yajnad bhavati parjanyo
yajnah karma-samudbhavah

“All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rains. And rains are produced by sacrifice.”

This is why we have introduced this movement, this chanting of the names of the Lord. This is sacrifice. And in this age of confusion, this unfortunate age, this sacrifice alone is possible. This is the remedy, the solution for all the world’s problems. But people will not take the remedy. They have got their own remedy.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=25151

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Serving Srila Prabhupada’s Mood

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By Srimati Dasi

Yes this is Srila Prabhupada’s world — it’s a world of MERCY MAGIC! The visionary mercy of a compassionate Gaudiya Vaisnava’s heart, and the magic of bhakti in action. On this very cold day we have had the good fortune to see so many compassionate devotees in action — all of them uniquely individual, all absorbed in their own heart-chosen field of service. But there’s a palpable synergy among them. All their hearts have the same heart beat and they dance to the same tune — and what’s that? It is the irrepressible, indefatigable — and irresistible! — compassion of Srila Prabhupada!

Many hearts, one heart beat — love for Krsna! — this is the precious gift from Goloka Srila Prabhupada came to give — and he is still distributing it through his many devoted and very dear followers!

To read more, please visit: https://ebooks.iskcondesiretree.com/pdf/Her_Grace_Srimati_Mataji/Srimati_Mataji_-_Serving_Srila_Prabhupada%E2%80%99s_Mood.pdf

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=81339

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One of New Govardhana’s main pujaris Dhanistha devi dasi recently embarked on a spiritual pilgrimage to the Himalayas. Along with friends, Bhuvana Mohini devi dasi and Madhu, Dhanistha braved dangerous slopes and high altitudes to eventually arrive at Gangotri, the origin of Mother Ganga.

Their journey began with a day drive from Rishikesh to Janaki Chattion, a very windy, frightening road complete with treacherous mudslides. Next, the team hiked six kilometers to Yamunotri, a very steep, but beautiful climb 3,291 meters above sea level. Despite being exhausted due to altitude sickness, the team continued on, only relenting to ride a pony for the last kilometer.

“I was particularly amazed at the inspiring local devotees, some of them quite elderly, who regularly make the climb. They smiled at our team and urged us onwards,” says Dhanistha.

From Yamunotri, the ladies followed on to Gangotri, driving two days to get there. Gangotri is nestled in the Garthwal Himalayas. The temple there attracts many pilgrims who also bathe in the icy cold pious waters of Mother Ganga.

Dhanistha’s pilgrimage into the Himalayas is inspiring to say the least!

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=81313

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 By Nrsingha-tirtha dasa

ISKCON’s Ministry of Education has issued an announcement regarding an educational census among the educators and leadership of ISKCON to determine ISKCON’s current scope of activities and the future needs of the members: 

"The Ministry of Education is undertaking an educational census among the educators and leadership of ISKCON to determine our current scope of activities and future needs of the members. The output of the census would allow us to put forward plans for developing stronger educational systems and programs within ISKCON to cater to such needs of the members.  

We are hopeful that this small step will help us fulfill the desire of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada for education within ISKCON. This google form survey should take only 15 min of your time.

Preferred completion time: 10th January 2020 

Link to the survey: https://forms.gle/86BbZwLSiuJvjQwBA

Note: For best viewing, we recommend using Google Chrome. Other browsers could also be used with proper Zoom (magnification level) for optimal viewing. Here is a link for adjusting the same: https://help.smartsheet.com/articles/506736-browser-zoom  

We look forward to your participation and we sincerely appreciate the time you take out to share your views. 

Should you have any specific query or need assistance, you may please reach out to Chetan Prabhu at chazaree@gmail.com"

Source: https://iskconnews.org/ministry-of-education-conducts-educational-census,7218/

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We have to bring some goodness in our life and we have to invest in the mornings. Rise early and have a strong morning program. Chant good japa. Read more in the Srimad Bhagavatam. Get absorbed and that will drive out this mode of passion and mode of ignorance, which are still sometimes weighing us down and making it hard for us to follow the rules and regulations of Krsna consciousness. This is confirmed in the Srimad Bhagavatam: tada rajas-tamo-bhavah kama-lobhadayas ca ye ceta etair anaviddham sthitam sattve prasidati (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.19). In this way, as loving devotional service is fixed in the heart, the influences of the modes of passion and ignorance will disappear and we will be able to follow Krsna consciousness.

But this is also a matter of decision. We can make this decision right now. We can decide that we will follow the four regulative principles now and not allow ourselves to go outside of them anymore. This is our choice. The time is now! Surrender now! Right now! Not tomorrow, “I will be a pure devotee from tomorrow”. No, try to be a pure devotee right now! If we try now to be a pure devotee, we will be pure. And we will become more pure day by day. So surrender now, that is all!

Source: https://www.kksblog.com/2020/01/a-resolution-to-surrender-now/

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By Kadamba Kanana Swami 

The essence of the process that we are following in this movement is the chanting of the holy name. This process is the yuga dharma – the dharma (religion) for this age of Kali. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has made this chanting of the holy name widely available to us and also added his extra mercy. The holy name has been chanted widely throughout the millennia but in this particular millennia, there is the added mercy of the Lord himself. Therefore, now it is very easy and quick for us to chant Krsna’s name and attain the results.
It is described by Rupa Goswami that in other Kali yugas, there are also incarnations of Vishnu who teach harinam sankirtan. But because Vishnu is not the original Supreme Personality of Godhead, he cannot invest the name with the special mercy by which prema (love) is very quickly attained. So in those yugas, the chanting is going on, but it is difficult; the progress is slow. But now, the progress is very quick as the added mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is rapidly invoking Krsna prema.
In the first initiation, the main focus is the holy name – that is the essence! The spiritual master chants on the beads first to invest them with his blessings and the blessings of the entire parampara (disciplic succession), coming from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. It is then that he invests his special mercy on us. Therefore, even though one has been chanting before, where the mercy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu is still available to all, the spiritual master invokes the entire parampara’s prayers during an initiation, which is very powerful!

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=61499

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In Canto Twelve of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhumi, Mother Earth, says this: “Although in the past great men and their descendants have left me, departing from this world in the same helpless way they came into it, even today foolish men are trying to conquer me. For the sake of conquering me, materialistic persons fight one another. Fathers oppose their sons, and brothers fight one another because their hearts are bound to possessing political power. Political leaders challenge one another: ‘All this land is mine! It’s not yours, you fool!’ Thus they attack one another and die.”
On the other hand, those who are enlightened use everything in Krishna’s service, knowing well that the world and everything in it belongs to Him.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=61483

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Although Srila Prabhupada’s health was not strong, he traveled to Allahabad in January of 1977 to preach at the Maha Kumbha Mela festival. Over ten million people were expected to attend the grand spiritual event. At the auspicious astrological time, the pilgrims would bathe in the triveni, the holy confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Sarsavati rivers. That Srila Prabhupada had chosen to attend this festival in the city where he had lived for many years was an especially significant historical and spiritual event. It was a great benediction to be there.

The early mornings were very cold. In fact, to walk on the sand in bare feet was like walking on ice or snow. The living conditions were austere for everyone, yet Srila Prabhupada stayed in a tent like the rest of the devotees. The electricity kept going off and the situation was less than desirable in many ways, but having Prabhupada’s association turned everything into a positive and wonderful experience for everyone. Nonetheless we were all concerned about Prabhupada’s health.

During the daytime the devotees went out on harinama and book distribution. It was very powerful because we were directly representing our beloved spiritual master who was nearby. Every conceivable tyagi and yogi was present at the mela, and there seemed to be more gurus than followers. But we were serving the supreme guru and acarya in disciplic succession, so we all felt blessed and protected.

Fortunately there were opportunities to enter Prabhupada’s tent and sit near him as he preached to visitors and instructed his disciples. The chance to be there and watch him closely as he interacted with others was priceless. His every word and gesture were divinely eloquent and pure. Millions of pilgrims had traveled from all over India to bathe in the holy rivers, but somehow or other we were sitting at the feet of Krishna’s beloved pure devotee. This was the pinnacle of all auspiciousness. After one such holy darsan, Srila Prabhupada’s personal servant surprised me with the remnants from Prabhupada’s prasadam plate. Although I’m undeserving in every respect, I came to appreciate the true meaning of the phrase “causeless mercy.”

One morning I was asked to collect enough holy water to fill a silver lota for Prabhupada’s bath from the triveni at the most auspicious time of day. It was very cold at that time of the morning and the waters were already filled with so many pilgrims, but it was an opportunity not to be missed and never to be repeated. The nectar was flowing from the heavens above.

Eventually Srila Prabhupada traveled on to Bhubanesvar and then to Mayapur for the annual festival. It was especially sweet that year. One night we all watched a play with Prabhupada in the audience. When Srila Prabhupada laughed, the entire crowd laughed. In fact, I think that we were watching Prabhupada more than we were watching the play onstage. What a joy to be with our spiritual master in such a relaxed and happy setting.

Later Srila Prabhupada went to Bombay. His health had markedly deteriorated by then, so it was a somber occasion. Gradually most devotees were encouraged to return to the West for preaching and other duties. Before leaving I had one last chance to render some service. I was asked to clean the floors in Prabhupada’s room. With bucket and rag in hand, I was so happy and thrilled to be able to offer a menial service while Srila Prabhupada gently rested close by. The next day as I was leaving, I bowed on the road outside the temple compound and prayed. I knew in my heart that it was probably the last time I would ever be in Prabhupada’s physical presence. As I gazed up to Srila Prabhupada’s room, I didn’t want to leave. That deep pain of separation will stay with me forever.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=21706

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In Bhagavad-gītā Lord Kṛṣṇa describes four kinds of pious men (su-kṛtinaḥ) begin to render devotional service unto Him – the distressed (ārto), the desirer of wealth (arthārthī), the inquisitive,( jijñāsuḥ), and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute (jñānī)’

catur-vidhā bhajante māṁ janāḥ su-kṛtino ’rjuna
ārto jijñāsur arthārthī jñānī ca bharatarṣabha (BG 7.16)

Dhruva Mahārāja was arthārthī Bhakta- desirous of wealth. He wanted a kingdom bigger than his grandfather Lord Brahmā. When he was insulted by his step mother Suruci, the favorite queen of Uttānapāda, he cried and went to his is mother Sunīti who gave him instructions to approach Lord Kṛṣṇa. She said “Lord Kṛṣṇa is so kind to His devotees that if you go to Him, then the combined kindness of millions of mothers like me will be surpassed by His affectionate and tender dealings. When everyone else fails to mitigate ones misery, Kṛṣṇa is able to help the devotee”. With fixed determination as befits a kṣatriya, Dhruva Mahārāja went to forest to seek the shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the forest he met Nārada Muni who wanted to test Dhruva’s determination tried to advise him saying that: “My dear boy, you are only a little boy whose attachment is to sports and other frivolities. Why are you so affected by words insulting your honor? In my opinion severe austerities to see Kṛṣṇa face to face are not possible for any ordinary man. It is very difficult to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Executing many types of austerities, many mystic yogīs were unable to find the end of the path of God realization. For this reason, my dear boy, you should not endeavor for this; it will not be successful. It is better that you go home. Unfortunate incident occurred because of your own past deeds. Take it as working of Māyā and also it is Lord Kṛṣṇa’s mercy.” Dhruva Mahārāja replied “With due respect, your instructions are good but I am so ignorant that your philosophy does not touch my heart. All I want is to occupy exalted position greater than even my grandfather Lord Brahmā. If you will oblige, kindly advise me of an honest path to follow by which I can achieve the goal of my life.” Nārada Muni, upon hearing the words of Dhruva Mahārāja, and taking advantage of his determination became very compassionate toward him, and instructed him to go to Madhuvana forest situated on the bank of Yamunā (Kālindī) and to completely absorb himself in devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Kṛṣṇa, chanting the twelve-syllable mantra ‘Oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya’ and worshiping the Lord”. When Dhruva Mahārāja was thus advised by the great sage Nārada, he circumambulated Nārada Muni, his spiritual master, and offered him respectful obeisances and went to Madhuvana. Following the instruction rigidly Dhruva Mahārāja got the audience of Lord Viṣṇu in six months.

Sukadeva Goswami gives similar instructions to Parīkṣit Mahārājathat a person who has broader intelligence, whether he be full of all material desire ( sakāma) or without any material desire (akāma), or desiring liberation or (mokṣa-kāma), must by all means worship the supreme whole, the Personality of Godhead with great expedience (tīvreṇa) (SB 2.3 10). Dhruva Mahārāja was sarva kāma Bhakta. He performed tīvra bhakti. By successfully executing his spiritual master Nārada Muni’s instructions Dhruva Mahārāja saw the Lord (an incarnation known as Pṛśnigarbha) face to face in the same form he was practicing meditation on the Supersoul within himself the plenary portion of Kṛṣṇa as Viṣṇu – with four hands, holding conchshell, wheel, club and lotus flower.

Having darsan of the Lord he paid obeisances falling flat at Lord’s lotus feet. He wanted to greet the Supreme Lord with prayerful words but he hesitated feeling too young and inexperienced to speak eloquently. Understanding Dhruva Mahārāja’s awkwardness Lord touched boy’s forehead with conch shell empowering him to have full awareness of the Absolute Truth. There after Dhruva maharaja instantly thanked Him and understood that Lord’s blessing would grace his words. Thus he offered beautiful prayers. Srila Prabhupāda comments that to glorify or offer prayers unto the Supreme, one needs the Lord’s mercy. One cannot write to glorify the Lord unless one is endowed with His causeless mercy. First he prayed to the Lord that he was satisfied just by having Lord’s darsan: sthānābhilāṣi tapasi sthito ‘haṁ, tvāṁ prāptavān deva-munindra guhyam kācam vicinvann api divya-ratnaṁ, svāmin krtārtho ‘smi varaṁ na yāce

O my Lord, because I was seeking an opulent material position, I was performing severe types of penance and austerity, now I have got You, who are very difficult for the great demigods, saintly persons and kings to attain. I was searching after a piece of a glass, but instead I have found a most valuable jewel. Therefore I am so satisfied that I do not wish to seek any benediction from You. (Nardiya Purana). Dhruva experienced the Lord as the personified form of benediction, by which he could understand the nature of the topmost desire i.e. to become a devotee with no other desire but to please Kṛṣṇa. He came to conclusion that although he had worshiped the Lord to gain material benediction, the worship itself was the greatest benediction. Srila Prabhupada comments: Dhruva Mahārāja was cognizant of the -defective nature of his own devotional service. Such adulterated devotees can never see the Personality of Godhead face to face. He therefore, felt very grateful for the causeless mercy of the Lord. And he prayed for protection from the Lord so that he might not be misled or deviated from the path of devotional service by material desires. Dhruva Mahārāja has realized that serving Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet is much more relish able than the enjoyment of even a hugely opulent kingdom in the material world. So he prays, to Viṣṇu as the protector of one on the devotional path, similar to a cow protecting her calf. And what is Viṣṇu protecting the devotee from? Answer is protection from himself – ‘from his own defective nature’.Dhruva’s last prayer sums up his previous materialistic attitude and his present devotional one: satyāśiṣo hibhagavaḿs tavapāda–padmam āśīs tathānubhajataḥ puruṣārtha–mūrteḥ apy evamaryabhagavānparipātidīnān vāśreva vatsakamanugraha-kātaro ‘smān (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 4.9.17)

“My Lord, O Supreme Lord, You are the supreme personified form of all benediction. Therefore, for one who abides in Your devotional service with no other desire, worshiping Your lotus feet is better than becoming king and lording it over a kingdom. That is the benediction of worshiping Your lotus feet. To ignorant devotees like me, You are the causelessly merciful maintainer, just like a cow, who takes care of the newly born calf by supplying milk and giving it protection from attack”. This verse is explained by Sridhara Swami as: ‘O Supreme Personality of Godhead (bhagavān) Your form (mūrteḥ) is the Supreme bliss and highest goal of life (puruṣārtha). Your lotus feet (pāda-padmam) are the true benediction (satyāśiṣo) and are a benediction for greater than other benediction (āśīs) such as ruling over a kingdom. This is right conclusion because for the devotees who are worship You (anubhajataḥ) without ulterior motive. You are the highest goal of life. O, Master (arya) even though this is so, You still maintain and protect poor (dīnān) people like us (‘smān). A Kṛṣṇa conscious person can see Kṛṣṇa in the heart of everyone as stated in the smṛti : ātatatvāc ca mātṛtvāc ca ātmā hi paramo hariḥ. The Lord, being the source of all beings, is like the mother and the maintainer. As the mother is neutral to all different kinds of children, the supreme father (or mother) is also. (BG 6.29 Purport)

The Lord is so merciful that not only does He fulfill the desires of a devotee who is driven by ignorance and desires for material benefit, but He also gives such a devotee all protection, just as a cow gives milk to a newly born calf. Lord is bhakta-vatsala. Even Dhruva Mahārāja did not want any Kingdom but any way the Lord awarded Dhruvaloka to him (Lord Pṛśnigarbha had created it for Dhruva maharaja so that he can later reside there). Dhruvaloka — polestar is an eternal Vaikuntha planet, a planet that was never resided upon by any conditioned soul. Even Brahmā, being the topmost living creature within this universe, was not allowed to enter the Dhruvaloka. Not only that but Lord also granted that even before attaining Dhruvaloka he would reign on earth for 36,000 years without aging. The Lord then awarded Dhruva the ability to remember Him fully at the time of his death despite his having ruled as king surrounded by all material opulances for so many years.

Under Nārada Muni’s guidance Dhruva Maharaja has transformed powerful anger to focused determination. Now he reaped the fruit of his devotion (a great kingdom). But he was ashamed of the selfishness that had motivated his worship. The Lord certainly could have immediately taken him back to Godhead but He did not because Dhruva’s desire for revenge and vast material kingdom carried him those benedictions.

Therefore a devotee must be very sincere in his devotional service; then, although there may be many things wrong on the devotee’s part, Kṛṣṇa will guide him and gradually elevate him to the highest position of devotional service. One should simply pray to the Lord to be constantly engaged in His transcendental loving service.

Lord also predicted that Dhruva’s stepmother Suruci would suffer a reaction for her assault and would lose her only son Uttama burnt to death in forest fire. Suruci’s offense to Dhruva was committed before he had attained Lord’s darsan.

Therefore, one should take care when dealing with devotees, even if they do not appear advanced at the moment. It is dangerous to offend or insult a Vaiṣṇava or anyone for that matter.

Lord Kṛṣṇa is so affectionate and kind towards His devotee, especially to a devotee like Dhruva Mahārāja, who went to render devotional service in the forest alone at the age of only five years, that although the motive might be impure, the Lord does not consider the motive; He is concerned with the service. He is ‘bhāva grāhi janārdana’. If a devotee has a particular motive, the Lord directly or indirectly knows it, and therefore He does not leave the devotee’s material desires unfulfilled. When Dhruva Mahārāja became situated on the Vasudeva platform due to seeing the Lord face to face, all his material contamination was cleared. Dhruva Mahārāja regretted very much that he could not take seriously the instruction of his spiritual master Nārada Mini, and that his consciousness was therefore contaminated. He was adamant in asking him for something perishable, namely revenge against his stepmother for her insult, and possession of the kingdom of his father. Still, the Lord is so merciful that due to Dhruva‘s execution of devotional service He offered Dhruva the ultimate Vaiṣṇava goal. Dhruva Mahārāja also prayed to grant him an association of devotees. Srila Prabhupada writes: In other words, every one of us who is engaged in devotional service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness should be completely free from all material aspirations. Otherwise we will have to lament like Dhruva Mahārāja. Therefore, Maitreya Muni concludes describing Dhruva Mahārāja’s unique achievement. He characterizes a pure devotee’s equipoised attitude as: “always attached to honey of His lotus feet and says “those who are always attached to the honey of His lotus feet, are always satisfied in serving at the lotus feet of the Lord. In any condition of life, such persons remain satisfied, and thus they never ask the Lord for material prosperity. Srila Prabhupada in his purport elaborates that a devotee is always engaged in drinking the honey from the lotus feet of the Lord. The Lord’s feet are compared to the lotus, wherein there is saffron dust. Thus a devotee is always engaged in drinking the honey from the lotus feet of the Lord.

Unless one is freed from all material desires, he cannot actually taste the honey from the Lord’s lotus feet. One has to discharge his devotional duties without being disturbed by the coming and going of material circumstances.

Dhruva Mahārāja felt a deep regret to see how materially motivated he had been. His regret lasted even beyond his audience with Kṛṣṇa. For us we are faulty beings, and it takes time before we learn to offer our service in a pure way. We are not pure; we are defective. What make us so helpless is our misleading desires within our hearts. Despite Kṛṣṇa’s tender concern, He will not interfere with the free will of the living entity. To receive His mercy, we must reveal some level of sincerity or inclination toward Him. Kṛṣṇa provides His children space to grow as they will, yet remains loving towards them and prepared to help if they turn to Him. In Bhagavad Gita He says that He provides the intelligence by which we can return to Him. He also says that He provides what we lack and carries what we have, and that He is swift deliverer from the ocean of birth and death. If our main purpose in life is to attain bhakti, we should trust Kṛṣṇa to maintain our attempt.Kṛṣṇa is, after all, the causelessly merciful maintainer, just like a cow who gives milk and protection from attack. Cows are very affectionate, loving and caring to their calves. So much so that cow is prepared to give her life to protect her calf. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa exemplifies this tender concern toward His faltering bhaktas. He offers Himself to His devotees. His real nature is to reciprocate with His devotees. Kṛṣṇa’s supreme quality is His affection for His devotees, bhakta-vātsalya. The word vātsalya comes from vatsa, vatsa means “calf” or “dear child.” In the same way Kṛṣṇa is so loving and caring, so kind and compassionate to His devotees.

Kṛṣṇa maintains as well as fulfills the desires of enumerable materially engrossed jivas. Because He is responsible; He maintains all living entities, although He does it through His expansions and energies. However Kṛṣṇa Himself personally attends to relatively small group of souls who are interested in His direct love and protection. He exemplifies this tender concern toward His faltering bhaktas. That is His real nature to reciprocate with His devotees.

At the same time as the calf remains completely dependent on the mother and follow its mother without regard for where she is going. Then mother in turn shows even more tender concern for her calf. Similarly when we relate to Kṛṣṇa personally we receive His heart, His real nature and His desire to reciprocate with us. The pure devotional service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness cannot be had even by pious activity in hundreds and thousands of lives. kṛṣṇa-bhakti-rasa-bhāvitā matiḥ, janma-koṭi-sukṛtair na labhyate (CC Madhya 8.70). It can be attained only by paying one price — that is, intense greed to obtain it. tatra laulyam api mūlyam ekalaṁ. If it is available somewhere, one must purchase it without delay. krīyatāṁ yadi kuto ’pi labhyate. Therefore our main purpose in life should be to attain His bhakti. He promises that His devotee will never perish. ‘kaunteya pratijānihi na me bhaktah pranasyati’. He is protector of our Bhakti not our body or our possessions. We can’t make Him our body guard or watchman. We should pray that our bhakti or our attempts to progress in chanting and hearing may not be hampered. Any advancement in KC is Krishna’s gift to us. We should surrender Him whole heartedly knowing that He is our maintainer and protector. raksyati iti visvaso, goptrutve varan. In Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s words firm faith is required. krishna bhakti kaile sarva karma krta haya. By performing devotional service to Krishna all the things will be done automatically. Sometimes His devotee apparently seems to be suffering some misery but devotee considers as Lord’s special mercy for inducing him to completely let go of the material world and return home, back to Godhead. Thus the devotee, completely cleansed in heart, becomes fully absorbed in loving service to Kṛṣṇa and in the end returns to Him. He simply awaits the Lord’s mercy. He expects the Lord’s mercy (tat te ’nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇo) and offers obeisances to the Lord with heart, words, and body (hṛd-vāg-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te). These two processes are so potent that they can bring the devotee back to Godhead. This way we should be exemplary in our behavior. Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said ‘dharma-sthāpana-hetu sādhura vyavahāra’ (CC Madhya 17.185 ) -“A devotee’s behavior establishes the true purpose of religious principles. “The behavior of a devotee is the criterion for all other behavior.”

Note: Some of the passages are excerptions taken from Satsvarupa dasa Goswami’s writings.

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King Pariksit continued: “The ability to talk can be perfected only by describing the transcendental qualities of the Lord. The ability to work with one’s hands can be successful only when one engages himself in the service of the Lord with those hands. Similarly, one’s mind can be peaceful only when one simply thinks of Krsna in full Krsna consciousness. This does not mean that one has to have very great thinking power: one has to understand simply that Krsna, the Absolute Truth, is all-pervasive by His localized aspect of Paramatma. If one can simply think that Krsna, as Paramatma, is everywhere, even within the atom, then one can perfect the thinking, feeling and willing functions of his mind. The perfect devotee does not see the material world as it appears to material eyes, for he sees everywhere the presence of his worshipable Lord in His Paramatma feature.”

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Srila Prabhupada letter to Rayarama, Oct. 22, 1971
My Dear Rayarama,
Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated 11th October 1971 and have noted the contents. I welcome you for your coming back to our society and you are feeling very nicely the association of devotees.
Srila Rupa Goswami has described that devotional service can be advanced by six processes. Perhaps you know them. They are as follows: enthusiasm, patience, conviction, following the regulative principles, being honest in one’s profession, and in the association of devotees.
So this Krishna consciousness society is especially meant for giving people the opportunity to associate with devotees. Devotees means who are following the regulative principles. One cannot be independent and at the same time become a devotee because all devotional activities are based on surrender.
So in the association of devotees we learn this important item—how to surrender, but if we keep our independence and try to become devotees, that is not possible.
You write to say that you cannot feel any taste for temple life or Deity worship. This means you are keeping the same temperament you entertained before leaving our society. Our process is to accept both the lines of bhagavata marga and pancaratriki marga.
Perhaps you might have seen the picture of the Gaudiya mission. On one side there is the bhagavata book and on the other side a picture of Laksmi Narayana for Deity worship. You cannot make any progress in devotional service unless simultaneously you follow both the lines.
Just as the tracks of a railroad line; both must be there. Similarly temple worship is essential for purifying us from the material contamination and without being purified we cannot glorify the Lord.
As it is stated in Bhagavad-gita that the Lord is completely pure and we cannot approach Krishna without being purified. So as you say that you do not feel very much encouraged in Deity worship and temple life, I see that your disease is still continuing. Under the circumstances simple academic career will not help you.
If you want to live with us you must accept temple life, namely cleanly shaven head, observing the regulative principles, decorating the body with tilak, etc. You know all these things.
So far your editorial work is concerned, I welcome your good service but if you do not follow temple life and Deity worship, it will set a bad example. When I was there in N.Y. last time I saw that the tendency was there in the press members not to follow the principles. So I said better to stop the press.
Since then Advaita and the others are attending temple worship. Similarly you must also do the same and chant at least 16 rounds, etc.
I am so glad to learn that you are eager to preach but we should know it that we cannot preach without being solid in our standing as devotee. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu said that “apani acari prabhu jivare sikhaya.”
This means that Lord Caitanya wanted that one should preach by behaving himself exactly what he preaches.
So our Krsna consciousness movement, preaching, depends on personal behavior. If you want to preach the gospel of Lord Jesus Christ on the principles of Bhagavad-gita you will find so many differences. Those who are following Jesus Christ, let them follow strictly to the principles of the Bible.
“Thou shalt not kill” is now being misinterpreted by Christian priests. Now they say “Thou shall not murder.” This means trying to save themselves from the crime of animal killing. So you cannot teach such unscrupled followers the message of Bhagavad-gita. If you want to preach Bible you can tell them why there will be misinterpretation.
In N.Y. there is a big press that prints “Watchtower.” They are forcefully criticizing Christian behavior. I read that one Christian priest allowed a marriage between two men—homosex. So these things are going on. So your proposal for preaching the gospel on the basis of Bhagavad-gita will not be successful. If you want to do that I cannot check you but I cannot allow you to do such things from within our society. You have to understand our philosophy perfectly, follow the regulative principles, and then in fact you can edit our books and papers.
When I shall go to Mayapura then upon hearing from you of my proposal as mentioned above, I shall arrange for your coming to India. First of all you have to decide yourself whether you are prepared to surrender to our principles, but if you keep your independence either in Mayapura or N.Y., your position is the same.
To associate with me you are always welcome but not with your independence. That will not help me or you.
Hoping this will meet you in good health.
Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

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How many of us are fortunate to have not just good friends, but close friends with whom we can phone at any time, and for no particular reason, than to simply share a Krishna conscious realization?

How many of us are blessed to be able to shed all institutional and scholarly roles, simply to sit down in an informal setting once in a while, and discuss none other than Krishna katha?

Does it ever occur to us sometimes, particularly if we are second initiated, that the services we try to render for Srila Prabhupada’s preaching mission, may appear to be light years away from the deep and esoteric meanings of the Gayatri mantras chanted thrice daily?

In other words, we serve together in association with other devotees, hear class together, eat together, all in a routine and sometimes mechanical way, and learn that perhaps we are not associating closely enough, or not deriving real benefits from vaisnava sanga. It can also be said that one can still feel a sense of loneliness even while mixing with many devotees. It can induce a sense of being there, but not there.

In another way, we can get so absorbed in the formality of service that it seems like a dharmic duty. To do seva in this mood can go in vain: “The occupational activities a man performs according to his own position are only so much useless labour if they do not provoke attraction for the message of the Personality of Godhead.” (SB 1.2.8)

A typical example of this can be experienced whenever there is a festival or a Sunday program at a local temple. We see many old friends and acquaintances, but due to time restraints and the hustle and bustle of the occasion, one can hardly speak meaningful Krishna katha. The talks will more likely be confined to; “How are you, and the family? How’s business?”

Not that this is wrong, but the same hustle and bustle is often carried over into general temple life, or into our service attitude. When new guests arrive they may not always get the attention they deserve, because devotees usually appear to be busy doing something. When deep meaningful relationships are required between devotees, the same routine hustle and bustle can prevent this too, yet devotees are mixing with each other.

“O Narada, I am not in Vaikuntha nor am I in the hearts of the yogis. I remain where My devotees glorify My name, form, qualities and transcendental pastimes.” (Padma Purana)

In such situations it is hardly surprising to discover that many devotees feel somewhat lonely, or are not relating as they should be. The formality of the temple sadhana program, from mangala-artika to japa, to class then prasadam, leaves little room for developing meaningful relationships. And when service begins for the day, there should be more time to foster friendships, but without giving an opportunity to enable this on an informal basis, there is little chance otherwise.

One may object that we have daily Srimad Bhagavatam classes, and those living at home listen to audio lectures, so are these not the times to hear Krishna katha? Or that we have certain seminars and other forums for this purpose, so what is the need for Krishna katha?

Then perhaps we should look at the difference between formal and informal Krishna katha. Formal Krishna katha means there will be one way traffic talk from an elected speaker, with scope for questions and answers. These are certainly very nice, but again, the formality of the occasion may prevent real interaction as one would expect from an informal more intimate forum.

While hearing, eating and serving together on this formal level, it is quite easy to lose track of the disparity of our real objective in Krishna consciousness – to hopefully attain Krishna Prema, and how the mystical power of the Gayatri mantras can enable entrance into the groves of Vraja – as opposed to simply serving in a routine, sometimes mechanical way and not being aware of this disparity.

To be constantly in touch with our sacred objectives we need the association of fellow vaisnavas. Not just token association, or formal association, but deep personal friendships and mentorship from those who have the time and willpower to enable occasional breaks from routine formality. We need to be able, as mentioned earlier, to shed our institutional or scholarly roles and sit together for real shared Krishna katha.

That is, there is no elected speaker, little formality, just simple sharing of realizations of any Krishna conscious topic. This sort of interaction helps to break down our positional blockages and encourages more bonding. We cannot underestimate the power of Krishna katha.

It also helps to keep devotees on track as to why they came to Krishna consciousness, and restores the balance between necessary routine service, and the esoteric objectives of Bhakti-yoga.

It even reduces whatever pride may be lurking that tells us to distance ourselves from others, for such pride causes loneliness, even while living or serving with likeminded devotees. Barring language barriers and obvious age gaps, there can be little excuse to associate correctly with fellow devotees.

We should also be mindful that if we are accustomed to doing everything routinely and formally, it must reflect the way we chant our japa. Perhaps we are chanting japa and treating the Supreme Person – Sri Hari Nama Prabhu – as just a formal routine objective. The fact is, much more can be done for our mission when there is cohesion of interest. Friends are more likely to achieve more as a team for the benefit of a community.

This is not to say to that we must get closer as devotees just for the sake of it. No. Wherever Krishna is, specifically when there is congenial talk about Him, He is an unfathomable treasure meant for sharing between all. The best way to share is through proper Krishna katha. This is the real essence of closeness between devotees. This should be encouraged more often.

Everyone can participate, even those who know everything. The magic ingredient here is humility. If one knows everything one can never be above the need for Krishna katha at any time.

“When there is a congregation of devotees, their discussions, questions and meeting is beneficial for everyone’s real happiness.” (SB 4.22.19)

To be able to say we are there, and there, with a balanced blend of service with shared association, practical and esoteric harmony, the benefits of real Krishna katha is the gel to unite on all fronts. “The discussion of spiritual matters amongst devotees is beneficial for everyone, without exception.” (SB 4.22.19 purport)

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa

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